The Bar Council of West Bengal has written to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana seeking the removal of Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Rajesh Bindal, Live Law reported on Sunday. The letter alleged “biased and improper” listing and hearing of cases.
“Justice Bindal is a partial, unfair and biased judge whose continuance at High Court interferes with fair and impartial dispensation of justice,” the letter stated.
It also cited the recent politically sensitive matters like those related to the Narada bribery case and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s petition challenging the Nandigram poll results in the state Assembly elections. Notably, the letter has been signed by chairperson of the Bar Council of West Bengal Ashok Kumar Deb, who is also a Trinamool Congress MLA, Bar and Bench reported.
The Bar Council pointed out the manner in which the Calcutta High Court took up a transfer plea filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Narada case.
On May 17, the CBI had arrested West Bengal ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and former party leader Sovan Chatterjee in connection with the case. They were granted interim bail by a special CBI court later that day. But, this bail order was stayed by the High Court in a late night hearing the same day after the CBI challenged the earlier order. On the same day, the CBI filed the transfer plea as well.
Justice Arindam Sinha of the Calcutta High Court had even written to other judges, including Bindal, expressing his displeasure at the handling of the case, the Bar Council letter mentioned.
The letter alleged that a five-judge bench headed by Bindal allowed the CBI to file multiple affidavits in the Narada case, but did not give permission to Banerjee and West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak to do so.
On June 9, a bench headed by Bindal refused to admit affidavits from Banerjee and Ghatak challenging a petition by the CBI to transfer the Narada case from the Special CBI Court to the High Court itself. The two leaders then approached the Supreme Court, which directed the High Court to admit their affidavits before deciding on the transfer plea.
The letter further alleged impropriety in the listing of Banerjee’s plea against Nandigram election results. According to the court’s roster, Justice Kaushik Chanda is scheduled to hear the case, but Banerjee has sought his recusal citing “likelihood of bias”. She has alleged that Chanda was associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party during his days as a lawyer.
The Bar Council letter, meanwhile, claimed that the matter was filed and mentioned before a single-judge bench of Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharya.
“In the meantime, Justice Bindal snatched away the matter from Justice Bhattacharya’s determination and assigned the same to his favourite judge, Justice Kausik Chanda,” the letter alleged, according to Bar and Bench.
Bindal was appointed as a judge at the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2006, according to Live Law. He was appointed as the acting chief justice of the Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh in December.
Later, he was transferred to the Calcutta High Court on January 5, 2021. He took over as acting chief justice of Calcutta High Court after Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan demitted office on April 28, 2021.